UPDATE: Shortly after this report was published, The Beaverton deleted the story from its website. In a statement on Twitter, The Beaverton said: “Our article about suicide was indeed dark humour and we have removed it from the website. As our long time readers know we lost our founder and beloved friend Laurent to suicide two years ago. We are still processing his loss and making jokes about it is one way we do that. We respect some people feel this is inappropriate but comedy has always been our way of coping and, frankly, we don’t know any other way. “
Pop Goes The News — A satirical news site is under fire for posting a story about suicide in the Toronto subway system.
The article at The Beaverton is headlined: “Friends say man died doing what he loved, making thousands late on the subway.”
The post reads: “Steven H. Geller, 29, unemployed, died as he lived, causing aggravation and frustration for everyone around him when he threw himself in front of a train at Bloor station at morning peak rush hour, causing the main transfer hub to turn trains around in both direction(s).
“‘At least he went knowing that his completely selfish act caused a completely unnecessary train suspension,’ said roommate Ramya Ranasinghe. ‘I would be more angry about all the dishes he left piling up for weeks that I now have to clean, if I wasn’t thinking about the city workers who had the morbid and traumatizing work of cleaning up his remains.’”
Brad Ross, executive director of corporate communications for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), isn’t laughing.
“This writing isn’t satire; it isn’t edgy or limit-pushing. It’s simply not funny,” he commented on Facebook.
“Suicide has a profound and tragic impact on all those connected to someone who dies by suicide.”
He also tweeted: “You failed your readers here. Suicide is not funny, it’s not edgy or limit-pushing. It’s tragic. Talk to a parent.”
Toronto photographer John Hryniuk shared his shock on Facebook. “WOW just wow,” he wrote. “Are you really going there Beaverton? Suicide and mental illness aren’t funny. You might want to reconsider posting this. Please and thank you.”
Melissa Penney called the article “disgusting.”
“My cousin was killed by committing suicide this way and it was a cruel coincidence that I happened to be on the train that hit him,” she commented. “Fuck the person who wrote this trash and shame on the Beaverton and those who find this ‘satire’ funny.”
Calling the post “deeply insensitive and in poor taste,” Curtis O’Connor shared his views on Facebook.
“When satirizing any topic as touchy as mental illness, especially when involving suicide, one must tread carefully,” O’Connor opined. “Personally feel the author stomped through this one with steel-toed boots on. They need to both educate themselves and learn some damn boundaries.”
Not everyone believes The Beaverton failed.
Derek Pearce called the post “good satire” and Owen Olivier Blueman praised it as “excellent satire.”
Spencer O’Brien said everything is “fair game” for comedy. “I don’t think suicide is a laughing matter. I think this article is a laughing matter. Learn the difference.”